Strikes by security guards at Heathrow Airport will go ahead on Friday after last-ditch talks failed to resolve a pay dispute, with action likely to disrupt school holiday travel.
Around 1,400 members of Unite will walk out for 10 days, including most of the Easter weekend.
The union said talks broke down because Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) failed to substantially improve its pay offer.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Heathrow can afford to pay a decent pay rise to its workers.
“Yet somehow, Heathrow executives seem to think it’s acceptable to offer what amounts to a real-terms pay cut to its security guards and ground staff who are already on poverty pay.
“Unite has a laser-like focus on our members jobs, pay and conditions, the workforce at Heathrow Airport will receive the union’s unswerving support in this fight for a decent deal.”
Unite regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King said: “Heathrow Airport has thrown away the opportunity to avoid strikes. Unite went into today’s meeting looking for an offer our members could accept. Unfortunately it seems HAL went in with no intention of avoiding industrial action.
“The strike action will undoubtedly result in severe delays and disruption to passengers across the airport but this dispute is a direct result of Heathrow Airport’s stubborn refusal to pay its workers fairly.”
Picket lines will be in place across the airport throughout the 10 days of continuous strike action, which ends at 23.59pm on Easter Sunday April 10.
The strikes involves security officers at Terminal Five, which is used exclusively by British Airways, and campus security guards who are responsible for checking all cargo that enters the airport.
Unite said the strikes will cause disruption to flights, however Heathrow said it has contingency plans to deal with the industrial action.
“Our contingency plans will keep the airport operating as normal throughout.
“We are deploying 1,000 additional colleagues and the entire management team who will be in the terminals providing assistance to passengers over the busy Easter getaway.
“We know that the majority of colleagues do not support strike action. Following further talks, Unite has again refused to take an improved offer to members, despite the PCS union wanting to do so.
“Colleagues could have an above-inflation 10% pay increase back-dated to January 1 and a lump sum payment of £1,150, but instead they’re left empty-handed by Unite’s actions.
“The only reason Unite refuse to take the improved offer to members is because they fear they’ll back it.”
Heathrow said that as at any busy time, it may take a little longer than usual to get through security during the strikes.
“Passengers can help us ensure they get the best start to their journeys by checking their flight status with their airline before travelling to the airport, arriving at Heathrow no earlier than two hours before short haul flights and three hours before long haul flights and by being ready for security with their compliant liquids and electronics out of their hand luggage,” it said in a statement.